Kinda Funny Live is nearly upon us once again. And - as with years past - a number of fans have descended upon San Francisco in advance of the proper event to enjoy each other’s company and form new friendships.
My day started similarly to many of the friends I chatted with today - with virtually no sleep. It seemed practically everyone I talked to today got almost no sleep en route to San Francisco, unable to sleep within the confined space of their plane rides or (like me) too excited to fall asleep the night before.
I happened to share an early morning flight out of Sky Harbor with fellow Kinda Funny friend Cameron Abbott. As we waited for our flight to begin boarding, we tested the multiplayer functionality of my Nintendo Switch. We played Ultra Street Fighter 2 for a little while before switching over to Mario Kart 8. This was Cameron’s first time with the system in any form and my first time playing using a single Joy-Con control scheme. Street Fighter is serviceable as both characters are sharing the same battle screen but Mario Kart split screen on the Switch’s small screen, combined with the terrible controls of a single Joy-Con control (namely the barely there trigger buttons) was a really rough experience. We managed, but it is easily the worst way to play the system.
Anyway, our flight eventually started to board and I let Cameron continue playing the Switch single-player while I started Oceanhorn on the Vita. Initial impressions have it playing very similar to the PlayStation 4 last year. I didn’t explore too much because I spent the flight trying to get a little bit of sleep instead. Once we landed, Cameron and I grabbed our luggage and hung around to meet up with Brandon Gann and eventually Jonathan “Xyger” Landeros.
Brandon sent me an email following Kinda Funny Live 2 asking if I had any recommendations for getting involved in the community. That singular correspondence led to a post on Trevor Trove with whatever insight I could provide and fueled a steady online back and forth between Brandon and myself this past year (as well as opened him up to the idea of befriending other creators in the industry like Alex and the team at Irrational Passions. So today also culminated in a year-long friendship finally meeting in person (instead of just tweets back and forth). Cameron, Brandon, and I bonded over our shared passions in the community while we waited for Xyger to arrive. Once he did, the four of us headed off to the hotel.
The afternoon was filled with conversations in our hotel suite, with other members of the community steadily joining us throughout the day: both those who would be staying with us and those staying elsewhere. We all visited and relaxed until we neared the 6 o’clock hour, when a group of the Australian Kinda Funny friends had planned a gathering at one of Greg Miller’s favorite places: Wing Wings.
Everyone in our room caravaned over to Wing Wings to find a sizeable group already enjoying their food and each other’s company. Much like at the very first Kinda Funny Live community meet-up here two years ago, we quickly overwhelmed the tiny store and spilled outside. Probably upwards of fifty people mingled in and outside the location, chatting about favorite Kinda Funny memories and shared interests. It was delightful visiting with the Australian fans who had all come out here more or less together. I also had the pleasure of meeting a family of four from my own geographical neighborhood. Mingling first with the 16-year-old daughter, I was then introduced to her parents and her 12-year-old brother, who all folded this into a family vacation that also included a recent trip to Disneyland/California Adventure and Palo Alto. The notion of a family of four enjoying the content together caught me off guard and I feel bad that I don’t remember their names but the fact that they live in Glendale, another suburb of Phoenix, made me smile.
Eventually, a segment of the audience walked a few doors down to a bar/restaurant. I got to catch up with friend and Kinda Funny Community Manager Joey Noelle for the first real chat since we saw each other for (fellow KF friend) Nikki Petitt’s wedding a month and a half back. We originally met very briefly at the original Kinda Funny Live but have grown closer and closer over the past few years and I loved our small window to catch up as she of course is going head first into the whirlwind of her first Kinda Funny Live as an employee.
Another great conversation came in talking to Logan Wilkinson, an Irrational Passions writer who I first really interacted with at PAX East. We had incredible conversations about Emily Is Away Too, Uncharted 4, and the musical Hamilton and it was an utter joy getting to engage with him in that manner (and thanks to Nato Johnson for coming by to say how much he’d love to see a podcast between the two of us). Also, fuck Ben Bellevue for abandoning us to actually see Hamilton tonight. Jerk!
More conversations ensued, including one where Logan and I got somewhat cornered by a non-Kinda Funny guy who pitched himself as an inventor and builder of dreams. So that was...a pretty good cue to call it a night. Logan and I headed back to our hotel room to join everyone else who had already made the pilgrimage back to base.
As has been a bit of a recurring gag at these events, I helped coordinate a(nother) room of ten people (with one more joining us for the event this weekend). But after reaching a bit of a breaking point at LAST year’s event (with 10 people in a standard hotel room), I have started investing a little bit extra in order to get us a larger hotel room. So while we once again have ten people in here (a wonderful mix of regulars, rare attendees, and first-timers), we’re at least operating in a room with ample bed and floor space.
And I’ve thoroughly enjoyed hearing them (re)connect here in the room as I’ve written up this initial recap. I imagine we’ll continue chatting a little bit further into the evening before finally turning in. A trip to Pier 39 and the Foundry are on the docket for tomorrow. And I can’t wait. We’re still a couple days away from the event proper but there are already so many people connecting and making lasting friendships, and that’s only bound to continue as more and more people arrive.